BreakOUT! Files Declaration in Support of NOPD Consent Decree
Also Advocates for Strengthened Provisions and Greater IPM Involvement
BreakOUT! filed a Declaration in support of the proposed Consent Decree with the New Orleans Police Department on Friday, which also expressed support for greater involvement by the Independent Police Monitor and strengthened provisions for NOPD oversight. The Congress of Day Laborers also filed a Declaration in support and provided two witness testimonies.
(Left, community members from BreakOUT!, Women With a Vision, Brotherhood, Inc., and other concerned citizens meet with DOJ at WWAV offices during federal investigation, 2010.)
The Declaration, written by BreakOUT! director, Wesley Ware, cites national data about LGBTQ youth interactions with law enforcement, as well as member experiences with the NOPD. Ware also notes, "While many in the NOPD have been receptive to hearing our recommendations or concerns, I have also had representatives from the Department tell me that transgender women simply should not walk down certain streets in New Orleans, regardless of whether or not they live nearby. To this, we say, 'Walking while transgender is not a crime.'"
The Declaration goes on to discuss specific areas in need of strengthening, such as ensuring an accountability mechanism for officers on foot patrol or others not in vehicles that are to be equipped with audio and visual recording of all officer interactions. The Declaration also addresses strengthening provisions for the Office of the Independent Police Monitor, which BreakOUT! has worked closely with to provide "Know Your Rights" trainings for members, nothing that the Independent Police Monitor "is the entity that will remain in New Orleans long after the DOJ has gone."
The Declaration also applauds the DOJ and NOPD for groundbreaking language specific to LGBTQ community and law enforcement interactions, including prohibiting the profiling of people based on gender identity or perceived sexual orientation.
It goes on to state, "We know from the stories told to us by so many of our young people, from those who have lost family members to the NOPD, and from community representatives that have been working to reform the NOPD for decades that there is a clear need for full oversight of the NOPD and a thorough Decree with extensive provisions to outline the path to reform...It is imperative that nothing short of this Decree is implemented to ensure the safety and well-being of LGBTQ youth and young adults of color in this City and to protect the rights of all New Orleanians who live in fear of those who are supposed to protect us."
The Declaration can be read below. Public comments made to the court by BreakOUT! members and other concerned community members can be found here.
Judge Susie Morgan did not give any indication when she would rule on the proposed Consent Decree.